Tens of Thousands Expected to Join Anti-Government Protest in Macedonia
Thousands of people are expected to seek the resignation of Macedonia’s Conservative Prime Minister Nikola Gruevsku during a protest rally in Skopje on Sunday.
According to opposition Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev, some 70,000 people are expected to join the rally.
Zaev has accused Gruevski of corruption and illegally wiretapping at least 20,000 Macedonian citizens including ministers, politicians, police, journalists, judges, foreign ambassadors and religious leaders.
Since early March, Zaev has been releasing recorded conversations that have suggested massive wiretapping, widespread corruption and interference in the judiciary and the media by Gruevski and his government. Zaev has demanded that Gruevski resign and new elections be held.
Gruevski has denied the charges, accusing Zaev of colluding with an unnamed foreign spy agency and plotting to overthrow the government.
The rally, billed as the largest Macedonia has ever seen in its capital is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. local time (1100 GMT). Arival pro-government meeting has been called for Monday. Zaev has vowed that opposition protests will continue until the government has resigned.
The ambassadors of Britain, Germany, France, Italy and the EU met Gruevski recently and said his government has not made progress toward accounting for many allegations of government wrongdoing arising from the wiretap disclosures. They also warned continued inaction will undermine Macedonia’s efforts to join the EU and NATO.
On Thursday, Gruevski met Zaev and the leaders of ethnic Albanian parties DUI and DPA in the first direct talks since start of the political crisis in January. US Ambassador to Macedonia Jess Baily and the head of the EU Delegation in Skopje Aivo Orav attended the meeting as observers. The talks ended inconclusively and the four political party leaders agreed to meet again on Monday.
Meanwhile, Gruevski said he won’t step down despite calls by the opposition for his resignation
In an interview with the Sitel television channel on Saturday Gruevski said he has no intention to resign or to accept a transitional government.
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